Blog ››› ››› JAMISON FOSER
Oh, boy. Here comes another conservative columnist peddling revisionist history about the 1995/96 government shutdown in an attempt to convince Republicans to again shut down the government.
A few weeks ago, I noted that columnist Tony Blankley, who served as press secretary to then-House Speaker Newt Gingrich during the shutdown, was wrong to claim that "the issue of deficit spending and public debt was of much less concern to the public than it is now."
Now here's Byron York:
Even if the 1995 shutdown hurt the GOP -- and there's no doubt the party suffered wounds inflicted not only by Clinton but also by themselves -- today's voters are in a different mood. "We have fiscal crises at the federal, state and local levels, and voters understand that," says Bill Paxon, a former Republican lawmaker and veteran of the shutdown. "Back in '95, we were whistling into the wind -- we were trying to preach fiscal discipline when voters were saying, 'Hey, there's not a problem.'"
And here's reality:
Then, as now, reporting suggested the public cared deeply about fiscal discipline. (And then, as now, there's every reason to think the public cares more about other things, like jobs and Social Security and Medicare.)
More from York:
Republicans like House Speaker John Boehner have learned from their mistakes. "Our goal is to cut spending and reduce the size of government, not to shut it down," Boehner said recently -- a statement he has repeated many times. Contrast that to 1995, when, Paxon recalls, "We said we wanted to shut down the government, that it was a good thing, that it would get people's attention, that it would advance our cause."
Contrary to Paxon's suggestion that in 1995, Republicans were publicly saying they wanted to shut down the government, Republicans at the time tried to blame Bill Clinton for the shutdown. One such Republican was (wait for it …) Bill Paxon:
"Rep. Bill Paxon, R-Amherst, said: 'We are making a down payment on a balanced budget, and it is unfortunate that the president is willing to shut down government to prevent us from balancing the budget.'" [Buffalo News, November 15, 1995]
"Paxon said the vote put retirement funds at risk to 'aid and abet President Clinton's shutdown of the federal government.'" [Bismarck Tribune, November 19, 1995]